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Thread: PowerTower Pro 128mb DIMM Problems

  1. #1
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    This is my first post here, and I'm really in need of help. I have a PowerTower Pro 200 with a PowerLogix G3/400 CPU and boot from a FWB PCI JackHammer UW scsi card running a three drive Cheetah RAID using SoftRAID and OS 9.1. My problem? I can't seem to get any 128mb DIMMs to work properly in my machine. I've tried two different vendor's 128 mb FPM 5v 4k DIMMs (3244 buffer) and I get very strange behavior. What happens:

    1. One 128mb DIMM installed in A1 memory slot = no problems

    2. Intall another DIMM in ANY slot (interleaved or not) = either a failure to boot (black screen) or a boot with mulitple finder crashes at startup and then a freeze requiring a reset to unfreeze.

    I've tried zapping PRAM, CUDA resets and pulling the lithium batt. for 15 min. to force a full reset and sometimes I can get a good startup only to have a finder crash and freeze when I try to use any application. I've also removed and replaced the CPU daughter card and all PCI cards to make sure they were seated correctly. When I run the 32mb DIMMS I have, everthing is fine. All busses have been thoroughly troubleshot and I get the same problems booting with extensions disabled and with 9.1 base and 9.1 all extension sets. If anyone has any ideas, please let me know. I'm going crazy here and one step away from sending the 128mb DIMMs back and trying 64mb 2K DIMMS to see if that makes a difference.

    Thanks - Hap

  2. #2
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    The only three things I can think of off hand is;

    1: Pull the motherboard cache. That can conflict with the daughtercard cache that's built into the G3. Hold that CUDA button down for a good 30 seconds.

    2: The quality of the ram sometimes doesn't matter much until you install a G3 or G4 accelerator. I don't know PTPs but some macs can do this with ram that doesn't meet Apples intended and designed for spec.

    3: Your Powerforce (I assume a PowerForce) G3 upgrade has jumpers to set the bus speed, the cpu to bus ratio and the backside cache ratio. Make sure that the bus is set to 50mhz. PTP motherboards don't take kindly to upping the bus speed if I remember correctly. Make sure the cpu ratio is set to 8:1. Then set the cache ratio to the default 2:1. You might have done these things but it's always good to double check the settings are right.

    One thing you can count on, Mac Gurus will stand behind the RAM they sell for your PTP. They jumped to help me fix a problem with a friends imac that I couldn't get ram to work in. Sometimes the most esoteric of problems can cause an incompatability, often no one even knows why that ram won't work but this one will. Don't give up yet on the 128s.

    Rick

  3. #3
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    ricks -

    Thanks for the advice. I just confirmed both visually on the card and with PowerLogix cache profiler 1.4 that the Powerforce (it is a Powerforce, and older one with the three rotary switches instead of the dips) is set to a bus speed of 50mhz with a 2:1 cache at 200mhz and a 400mhz processor speed.

    The motherboard cache has been pulled since the day the Powerforce was installed, and I've pushed that CUDA for as long as a minute with no luck. Pulling the lithium bat. for 15 minutes with the power plug pulled did more than that as far as the CPU was concerned I think, and it didn't help either. CPU tests with XLR8's PowerControl with PowerFrax running in the background always come back good, so I think the CPU is stable. PPC Checker says the CPU is a "PowerPC 750L LoneStar, Rev2.1, Copper G3, PVR = 0x00088201" if that means anything to anybody.

    Memory tests with both vendors DIMM's using the PowerControl test and Gauge PRO 1.1 test come back fine also. Since I have 8 DIMMs, four from each vendor and definately from two different manufacturers, I don't think the DIMMs are the problem. If I had the origional 604e card, I could pop it in and try that, but it's long gone. The only other Mac I have around is a dusty old 6500, and it can't take the 128mb DIMMs to test them there.

    A few other thing I've tried with no luck:

    1. Clean install of 9.1 on the RAID

    2. Pulled all PCI cards (only have the JackHammer, a Belkin 2 port USB and a RAGE Orion) and attempted to boot from the 2 gig drive on the motherboard SCSI bus with a fresh install of 9.1

    3. Zapping PRAM with TechTool

    4. Installed the "good" 32mb DIMMs in A1 and B1 or A1 and A2 and one or more of the 128mb DIMMs in other slots. Sometimes this would seem to stabilize things for a few minutes, but eventually the finder would quit everything would lock up shortly after.

    Again, everything is perfectly stable with the 32mb DIMMS installed. Maybe I need 222 buffers, or that really expensive NewerTech compatible memory?

    Anyone got any other suggestions?

    Thanks again ricks - Hap

  4. #4
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    I dunno if this relates to your situation at all, but I actually found that the SoftRAID driver conflicted with my RAM.

    I was fine at 640mb, but any attempt to get to 768 prevented booting from the RAID....odd. I cured my problem by moving to OSX, but try this:

    Put all eight sticks in.
    Boot from an OS CD
    Dig up that 2/4gb drive that came with the machine, disconnect your RAID, install you OS, and test.
    If that works, reinstall the RAID, boot from the CD again, and open the Apple System Profiler.

    Look at all your drives, and see if one has a suspect 0k partition, or a caution alert (anything out of the ordinary). If so, you may be having a problem similar to mine, where a combination of the phantom 0k volume, increasing RAM, and the SoftRAID driver conspire against you.

    A total stab in the dark, but since I had a full head of hair before developing this 'quirk', and am now visibly thinning, I thought I'd share!

  5. #5
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    chrismenke -

    I think you may be on to something. During my (many) previous attempts to get the 128mb sticks to work by booting of the 2 gig internal drive I had two or three times when the SoftRAID monitor would report I had an incomplete volume on the still connected RAID. The same thing happend every time a problem was reported, the last drive in the array would for some reason not show up at all, even when using SCSI probe. I originally though I had a SCSI problem on the JackHammer bus and tore apart the RAID. I checked termination and even replaced the RAID's SCSI cable (an expensive shot in the dark). I would reinitiallize and run Retrospect to replace everything from tape. I didn't connect until now that EVERY time this happend I had at least one of the 128mb sticks in the PTP. Since I also have the internal 2 gb drive running a SoftRAID driver, I think think your SoftRAID/memory conflict was the cause of at least this problem.

    I do have an external drive that still has the Apple driver on it, so I connected it, booted from the OS 9.1 CD updated the driver and installed 9.1 and the PowerLogix G3/G4 Cache Profiler 1.4 on it. I then disconnected the RAID and the 2 gb drive (both SoftRAID volumes) removed the working 32mb memory sticks and installed one 128mb stick. Well, it worked, sort of...

    I could get a good boot and a stable system with 1 or 2 128mb of one vendor's sticks installed, even with the two pieces interleaved, but adding a third or fourth gave me the same finder quit and eventual freeze. It didn't matter if the memory was interleaved or not. Following this dissapointment, I only did limited tests with the other vendor's memory and found similar problems, only the PTP wouldn't even boot (black screen, memory test failure?) with four sticks interleaved.

    Three things have come out of this latest experiment:

    1. I think there is an issue with the SoftRAID drivers and this memory. I will contact SoftRAID and if I find out anything I'll post it.

    2. I noticed that ALL the working 32mb sticks have the 2244 buffer and ALL the unusable 128mb sticks have the 3244 buffer. I think the 2244 buffer is a bit faster and maybe when I add 3 or more of the 3244 buffered sticks, the resulting slowdown is enough to push things over the edge. I would appreceiate comments on this issue if anyone has info.

    3. To remove and replace memory on the PTP, you have to practically take the whole machine apart (well at least the 3.5 bay and a few other things). I've done this so many times now I think I could qualify for a NASCAR pit crew without further training.

    Thanks for the help chrismenke, but the saga continues...

    Hap


    [This message has been edited by HapHazard (edited 31 October 2001).]

  6. #6
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    Update-

    I think my fears that 4k refresh memory will not work on this machine have been confirmed. Technical support folks at both vendors of the 128mb sticks I contacted today and also at MacGurus last week say that they believe the problem is the 4k refresh rate of the memory and that they will never work properly in the PTP. While this does sound a bit negative to me, the experiences I've had tend to make me believe it. I'm sure some folks can use the 128mb DIMMs in PTPs but I'm begining to think I'm not one of them. I'm still open to suggestions, but I'm strongly leaning toward returning all the 128mb DIMMs and going with 64mb. I don't want to give up, but I've been at this for weeks with no positive results. Please, if anyone has any other suggestions, post them. I'm still willing to try a few thing before the DIMMs go back.

    Hap

  7. #7
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    Did you check for any mystery partitions reported by ASP?

    This was my main stumbling block, as they'll only show up in ASP, and maybe HDT4.

    It was the inability to remove these strange partitions from SoftRAID volumes which turned out to be my problem.

  8. #8
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    chrismenke -

    I can't seem to see anything unusual with the partitions when I follow your directions and check with ASP or ATTO ExpressPro-Tools 2.6. What exactly should I be looking for? Secondly, if mystery 0k partitions are showing up, is this the problem or a symptom of greater incompatiblity? If it is the root of the problem, how I delete them?

    Thanks for the help - Hap

  9. #9
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    HapHazard: Try putting your memory in from the high slots down. IE: 128's in A4 and B4. Progressively smaller memory's in A3 & B3 and so on. It's always been my understanding that this is the optimal method of installing the memory. I also have a PTP and 4K refresh FPM memory. I've had no problems with it.

  10. #10
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    hap,

    don't give up on the 128 sticks. i purchased two from the gurus quite some time ago and have had no issues to date in my ptp.

    kj

  11. #11
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    IT WORKS! IT WORKS! IT WORKS!

    lasvegas -

    Despite extreme doubt on my part, I tried your suggestion AND IT WORKED! I am now runing 640mb of interleaved memory in this configuration:

    B4 - 128mb
    B3 - 128mb
    B2 - 32mb
    B1 - 32mb
    A4 - 128mb
    A3 - 128mb
    A2 - 32mb
    A1 - 32mb

    Man oh man am I happy! I really don't know why after several weeks I never stumbled upon this config. I always thought A1 was the slot to start from, and all my tests started by adding memory there. I only wish I could afford to keep the other 512mb, but 640 is more than enough for now, so it goes back. It seemed to have more problems than the other sticks anyway. Thanks to all for the help. This has been a great first experience on this board and MacGurus has just won another convert for life. I'll do my best to return the favor by helping others here and making some planned upcoming purchases from MacGurus.

    Thanks again - Hap

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